Each year, a small number of children die from asthma
A small number of children die from asthma each year in New Zealand. In 2016, five children died from asthma (Figure 1).
Figure 1: Annual number of asthma deaths, children aged 0–14 years, 2001–2016
Over 7,000 hospitalisations for childhood asthma in 2018
In 2018, there were 7,182 hospitalisations for asthma (including wheeze) among children aged 0–14 years.
The age-standardised rate for asthma hospitalisations increased from 2002 (473 per 100,000) to 2018 (779 per 100,000) (Figure 2).
Figure 2: Asthma hospitalisations in children aged 0–14 years, by sex, 2001-2018 (age-standardised rate per 100,000)
Younger children had higher asthma hospitalisation rates
In 2018, children aged 0–4 years had a much higher asthma hospitalisation rate (1,652 per 100,000) than children aged 5–9 years (487 per 100,000) or 10–14 years (176 per 100,000).
Figure 3: Asthma hospitalisation rates, children aged 0–14 years, by age group and sex, 2018 (crude rate per 100,000)
Pacific children have the highest asthma hospitalisation rates
In 2018, the asthma hospitalisation rate was the highest in Pacific children compared with Māori, Asian and European/Other children, after controlling for age (Figure 4).
Figure 4: Asthma hospitalisation rates, children aged 0–14 years, by prioritised ethnic group, 2018 (age-standardised rate per 100,000)
In 2018, the asthma hospitalisation rate was higher for children living in the most deprived areas (NZDep 2013 quintile 5) (1,181 per 100,000) than those in the least deprived areas (quintile 1) (588 per 100,000), after adjusting for age. (Figure 5).
Figure 5: Asthma hospitalisation rates, children aged 0–14 years, by NZDep 2013 quintiles, 2018 (age-standardised rate per 100,000)
Highest rates of asthma hospitalisation in Auckland, Lakes, Taranaki and Hutt Valley DHBs
In 2018, there were substantial regional differences in children’s asthma hospitalisation rates. The following DHBs had the highest rates of asthma hospitalisation for children compared to the national rate (Figure 6):
• Auckland (1,268 per 100,000)
• Hutt Valley (1,121 per 100.000)
• Lakes (1,081 per 100,000)
• Hawke’s Bay (1,080 per 100,000)
The lowest asthma hospitalisation rates were in:
• South Canterbury (320 per 100,000)
• MidCentral (473 per 100,000)
• Tairāwhiti (475 per 100,000)
Figure 6: Asthma hospitalisation rates, children aged 0–14 years, by District Health Board, 2018 (age-standardised rate per 100,000)
The percentage of children with medicated asthma over the last ten years has been relatively consistent, adjusting for age differences.
Figure 7: Medicated asthma, children aged 2-14 years, 2006/07-2017/18 (unadjusted prevalence)
Boys were more likely to have medicated asthma than girls
In 2017/18, boys had a much higher rate of medicated asthma (17.3%) than girls (12.3%).
The percentage of children taking asthma medication was somewhat higher for children aged 5-9 years (16.0%) and 10-14 (15.8%) (Figure 6).
Figure 8: Medicated asthma, children aged 2-14 years, by sex and age group, 2017/18 (unadjusted prevalence)
Higher rates of medicated asthma among Maori children and in more deprived areas
In 2017/18, the highest rate of medicated asthma was among Māori children (22.9%), followed by Pacific children (16.4%) and European/Other children (14.5%). Adjusting for age and sex differences, Māori children were 1.9 times more likely than non-Māori children to have medicated asthma.
Children living in the most deprived areas (NZDep2013 quintile 5) had a much higher rate of medicated asthma (19.0%) than children in the least deprived areas (12.5%) (Figure 7).
Figure 9: Medicated asthma, children aged 2–14 years, by neighbourhood deprivation (NZDep2013 quintiles), 2017/18 (unadjusted prevalence)
Highest rates of medicated asthma in Whanganui, MidCentral and Hutt Valley DHBs in 2014-17
In 2014–17, Whanganui DHB (24.4%), MidCentral DHB (21.9%) and Hutt Valley DHB (20.5%) had the highest rates of medicated asthma compared to the national rate (Figure 8).
Figure 10: Prevalence of medicated asthma, children aged 2–14 years, by District Health Board, 2014–17 (unadjusted prevalence)
See the factsheet for more details (in the Downloads box).
Information about the data
Source: National Minimum Dataset, Ministry of Health
Definition: Acute and semi-acute hospitalisations with asthma (ICD-10AM J45–J46) or wheeze (R06.2) as the primary diagnosis, for children aged 0–14 years. Analyses excluded overseas visitors, deaths, and transfers within and between hospitals. Age-standardised rates per 100,000 people have been presented.
Source: New Zealand Health Survey, Ministry of Health
Definition: Children aged 2–14 years who have been diagnosed by a doctor as having asthma, and who currently take medication (inhalers, medicine, tablets, pills or other medication) for it.
For more information about these indicators, see the metadata sheets (in the Downloads box).
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